I was smug and I was foolish. My hammer of justice was swift. I was horribly inflexible, final and self-righteous. But I didn't know that. I thought I was doing it right. I thought I was protecting my heart and standing up for myself. I thought I had every right to cut someone to the quick and punish them by withdrawing my love and kindness from them when they had hurt me. I felt entitled to my pound of flesh.
I spent many years looking at my sometimes gorgeous and other times yucky-faced self in the mirror in my thirties. I've written about this before. In 2014, I vowed to RELEASE. And for the most part I have. But it's taken me until now to see that when I placed each brick in the wall around her and walled her off, I was also bricking myself. As I placed each brick, I hardened my own heart. I was damaging both of us.
As I hugged her I could feel her body begin to shake. Her breath came hard and fast. Heaves of labored, oxygen tank assisted breath felt hot on my neck and tears fell to her cheeks as she shook. "So many people don't love me", she sobbed onto my shoulder.
In that moment the 20 year-old version of me woke right up and remembered.
I remembered all of the reasons why I had shut her out. The flood of memory caused my heart to skip a beat. I could have cast a final blow. I could have unleashed all of the words I had only ever spoken to myself. I could have explained to her why. I could have. Years ago, I would have stiffened and disengaged but that's not what happened this time. This time I held her tighter. This time tears sprang to my eyes. Because I no longer wanted to hurt her. I no longer wanted to punish her. I only wanted to help her.
Suddenly, I loved her.
As I held her, I could feel her pain. Her regret was heavy and over-powering her physical strength. Here I was keeping her from falling under the weight of agony. Here I was 20 years later holding her in my arms. And all I wanted to do was forgive her. My heart opened up. I didn't tell it to. It just... did.
"So many people don't love me", she wept. And for the first time in a very long time, I simply said, "I do. I love you. You ARE loved." and I meant it.
And in that moment, I hoped that she was free.
Because in that moment, I was free.